Sunday, June 4, 2023

Congress all alone in election arena


Dr. Duggaraju Srinivasa Rao

The election process is on in five states and all parties are busily forming alliances with likeminded parties, either small or big, barring the Congress, the grand old party of India. No party is coming forward to join hands with Congress in any state and that surprises every one and shocks that party high command. Till recently the Congress leaders were claiming that “it is not possible for other parties to fight with BJP without Congress” but all regional parties ridiculed and rejected that claim by not knocking at the door of that party for seat sharing. The story of rejection for Congress is the same in Uttar Pradesh, Goa, and Punjab and to certain extent in Uttarakhand and Manipur. The regional parties like TMC, AAP which participated in Sonia Gandhi lead virtual conclave few months ago and spoke in favour of Congress leadership has suddenly somersaulted and are now running their own fight. Other surprise is that even NCP and Siva Sena which are part of ruling in Maharashtra are not ready to have alliance with Congress in Goa.

Congress is now perceived as senile in age fossilized in ideas thus not ready for reform and not ready to take any initiative on its own. Congress party’s refusal to the change at the top is hurting it mostly. Despite its successive massive defeats in Lok Sabha elections and huge loss of face in Bengal, Kerala, Assam the Congress first family is not ready to take up the responsibility. Despite many suggestions coming from sympathy quarters and its own Group of 23 demand for a change in the leadership and handing over to a leadership to someone outside the Nehru family the first family is adamant continues to believe that it Nehru family party.

It is this attitude of entitlement on the part of Sonia and Rahul which made other parties to move away from Congress. TMC, which is otherwise an extended Congress, is now dead against that party. That is making the Congress leaders to complain against the regional parties not cooperating with them. Barring the complaint of “regional parties are bent on dividing the anti-BJP vote” of senior Congress leader P. Chidambaram, there was no worthwhile attempt on the part of Congress to appease the regional party leaders whose stars are on the ascendancy. From the state of calling the non-BJP parties to be on its side the Congress is now saying that “there had been no concrete alliance offer from TMC in Goa”. It is in a way conceding its lost prominence in politics. The new entrant into Goa, the TMC is accusing the Congress as the party which couldn’t keep its flock together either in Goa or in Karnataka where most of them defected to BJP and helped BJP to form the governments there. Mamata Banerjee think that there is no anti-BJP ideology in Congress ranks and it is Sonia and Rahul who are proving help-line to BJP at crucial times through their blunders. A politically waning party like Congress doesn’t need any sympathy from the regional parties is what regional leaders are saying. Even the Left parties also seems to be of the same opinion. The recent meet of both CPM and CPI leaders with the Telangana CM KCR and their proposal to build a non-Congress and non-BJP front and followed RJD’s Tejaswi Yadav’s visit to Hyderabad and inviting KCR to come and play a bigger role in national politics with the theme of non-BJP and non-Congress front has further pushed the stature of Congress down.

With all the election surveys indicating the victory to BJP barring Punjab and AAP as victor in Punjab the Congress position will be further weakened and isolation of that party is likely complete. No one likes to stand, in politics, by the loser more so when that loser refuse to learn lessons from the defeat.  Political games are always played by parties to win the elections and capture. Defeats are quite common after every defeat the parties will try to change their strategies and try to garner positive publicity if not an immediate victory. But successive defeats in elections, more so when they are heavy ones, will hit the party from recovering unless the leadership has a new vision. It almost took two decades for the BJP to recover from its 1984 election decimation. It was Ayodhya Ram temple movement which helped BJP to get the preeminence in national politics. The political opponents may accuse BJP of playing an emotional religious issue for gaining power but that party is not alone in raking up the emotions of party.  Every regional party used an emotional issue to establish itself. The language, culture, regional pride, castes are all emotional issues which formed backbone for DMK, TDP, TRS, RJD, SP, BSP, TMC. The Congress way of using appeasement of Muslims and SCs is well known. So the electoral success of BJP can’t attributed to the single factor of Ram temple. It was its repositioning, changing the leadership, galvanizing the cadre with new slogans, using the social media and technology in the campaign etc. are all the things which boosted BJP. The building of coalition in 2014 and social engineering in 2017 UP assembly elections are innovation of BJP.

Such new things, neither in the leadership projection nor in the identification of issues has not happened in Congress in the last one decade. The same old faces of the party are fighting for positions in the party and positions whenever the party scored victory in the state. Naturally voters moved away from Congress. After 2014 and 2019 elections the other parties saw not much use from the Congress as its vote share dwindled and its influence in the country shrank. All this lead the Congress party to the loneliness in the election arena. Its leaders stranded as the spectators in the political race where the chariots of other parties are running very fast. Only one party will win the race but there is no guaranty that the loser will come to Congress for the support in the next race. So all alone is going to be the permanent option for Congress.

(Author is retired professor and occasional contributor for dailies and magazines on politics and environmental issues. The views expressed are personal opinion of the author. He can be reached at [email protected])

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